Monday, October 17, 2016

On The Shores of Chanel Island.

Hi there,

On Saturday Morning I went exploring and fishing the shores of Chanel Island.
I hadn't been there in a long time, and certainly not on the side that I wanted to fish.
I had set my eyes on a spot near the boat ramp.
So early and happy I drove there, managed to get lost on the way, but finally arrived at destination.
Once there a bit of a walk on the rocks and through some mangroves, to finally arrive to a place that looked the right kind of fishy to me.
So i started to fish.

First with a standard Gold Bomber. But for no hits.
So I changed to a white Storm, for nothing better.
Changed again for a small Bomber in the Tiger Lily colour, and got two small hits.
So decided to change lure one more time and went for a small soft plastic, in black.
Not much more at first...

But I suddenly saw a very nice Barramundi swimming towards me from my right.
I tried as discreetly as possible to cast my lure a bit forward of where it would pass, just in front of me.
That was not a bad cast, for once, and the lure on the retrieve, passed a few centimetres in from of the Barramundi... Who immediately bolted sideway and went for the high sea as fast as it could.
I had spooked him.
Yes, I was a bit disappointed with that.
But, it looked that I had found just the right spot, as not long after, another one came from the same direction, and it was an even better fish.
Same thing, flicked the lure in front and a bit past it.
Reeling nice and slow to arrive just in front of him...
And this Barramundi, turn behind the lure and swim closer and closer to it.
The lure was now just a few centimetres from him, now it is just about one centimetres. The Barramundi seems to swim in perfect line with the lure, I am waiting for the strike...
And with in a rather nonchalant way, he turns away and calmly swam away.
Why did this fish came that close to my lure, and turn away from it like that?
Did I really deserved that?
Well apparently I did...
Oh well, Better luck with the next one, or so I thought...
The next one surprised me by suddenly appearing facing me just at my feet, and vanished in the same way. These big chrome fish, can sometime be very good at camouflage.

Yet I still had my hopes high. After all I had already seen three Barramundi, just in front of me, so I was in the right spot and this was going to pay soon.
Well, life has some mysterious way, hard to comprehend at time.
Because the fourth Barramundi, Not only I didn't see it coming, not only did it really surprised me, but I missed it too...
I was standing on my rock, with my lure retrieved and waiting in the water at my feet, scanning the water to try to spot another fish. Not seeing any fish, I lifted my lure out of the water to do a blind cast in hope to meet my elusive prey. Just as the lure came out of the water a big boof at my feet made me jump! Looking down, I saw the boil in the water with a big yellow tail saying bye bye to me, before I could fully realise what had just happened.
Yes, I had just missed another Barramundi.
So far it was Barramundi: 4 VS me: 0

You my boy, you have had some better fishing day, the little voice in my head was starting to say...
And I was starting to wonder what I should do to catch a fish?
With a little colour change happening on my left, I send my lure  straight in it.
This is when I finally got a good smack on the line, and a Barramundi started to dance on the surface.
You beauty !
It was smaller that the other ones before, (because as you certainly know, the ones that get away are alway enormous) but it was on my line and seemed to be above the minimal size, this was going to be my delicious dinner, just right there!
I got it to the shore, and dragged it on the mud.
Got my brag mat out and put my prized catch on it...
52cm... 3cm short of a nice dinner... and full of mud...

A little mud mullet.

Yes this fish was a bit too short and I had to release it. Still after all the ones that I missed or just saw swim past, I was rather happy to catch one. To me it was the confirmation that my little exploring wasn't in vain, I had found a good spot.

Here is an image of the little colour change where it came from:

Colour change along the rocks.

You can see that it was muddy terrain, even the rocks had a fine covering of mud.
Now out of this I had to try to catch a bigger one out of the receding tide.
Alas what was to follow was indeed a good little session, but without anymore Barramundi.
First I got my first little cod of the day...
And the key words here are: First and little...

First small Rock Cod of the day.

It was a cute little fish and I let it go.
Then a second one came along:

Second Cod of the day.

I couldn't help but think that Barramundi are often found on the same grounds than Cods.
So I persisted, and got another cod. But this one came with a surprise:

Third, and wounded.

This one was my third little cod, all caught within no more than 3 cast between them.
But this one must have had an encounter with a watery predator, before meeting my lure.
It really deserved to live, and I put it back in his element as quick as I could.

Here is where they all came from:

The Cods honey hole.

This spot had to me looked a perfect ambush point for Barramundi, but it was in fact Cod's Heaven.
Before fall of the tide, while the water was clearer, I did saw a few Barramundi swimming in there. So when the colour of the water started changing with the outgoing tide I thought that I was going to be Jack on the Spot...
Well on the Cod's spot yes...
Still it was definitively a fun way to pass time in the outdoor. I was having a ball catching all these little fish.

I finally caught my last fish of the day, and it was a new specie too. I had just seen some bait being smashed by an hungry bigger fish, and flicked my lure a bit in front of the fleeing bait.
The hit came but the fight wasn't huge...

Baby Barracuda on the lure.

It was just a little one, but for this one, I still decided to use my pliers to get the lure out of its mouth...

And by then, I had finished my two litres of water, and started to think about the walk back to the car.
With a dry mouth...
So I walked back through the mangrove and rocks, dreaming of an ice cold soft drink.

Just as I arrived at my car a scooter rocked in and parked a few metres away.
It was Hiro from the very famous blog Secret Barramundi. It was great to meet again, after not seeing him for a long time. He has always been very kind and helpful to me, in sharing good information about land based fishing spot and technics for Barramundi.

And now it was time to head back home, without a feed of freshly caught Barramundi.

But hey, It could be worse.
Have a good day,

Saturday, September 17, 2016

2016 Top End Barra Series Round 5.

Hi There,

Last weekend the fifth round of the 2016 Top End Barra Series took place at the mouth of the Adelaide River.
Here comes the story of it.
  • It was very hard fishing.
  • I used many lures.
  • And it was a dress up round.
I was going to fish this round with Seano, who did very well in that round in the previous years.
But being earlier in the season, the fishing was much harder than in the previous years.
We could see fish, and big ones on the sounder, but they didn't want to bite.

Still it is with great optimism that we launched at Leaders Creek and made our way along the narrow water way.
Arriving at day break.

Leaders Creek mouth in the morning.

It was one of these morning, where every things seem to be in place for a good day of fishing.

It looked like a fishing commercial.

It looked great, and soon we saw a friend getting on a good Jewfish:

Kel on a good fish.

It was Kel, he was the first that we saw catching a fish on the weekend.
And it would be a long time before we saw another fish being caught.
We tried trolling big lures at the mouth, using vibes in the creek or where ever we saw fish on the sounder. But to no avail.
Luckily, it was a dress up round, and it was fun to see the attire that some people had chosen.
Personally, I had gone for the French fisherman look:

My attire for the first day.

Other had gone for different looks:

The Carrot and the Disco Fisho.

All this was fine and fun, but the fish were missing at the party.
Seano and I, still fishless toward the end of the day, finally moved to some smaller creeks, with the idea to try to find fish in the snags.
And it worked!
First snag that we stopped at, Seano got a Barramundi on his first cast:

Barramundi on the old Nilsmaster.

Just like that, our spirits started to fly high again.
From the same snag, I too got my first fish of the weekend:

My first Barramundi of the weekend.

This one was too short to be a point scorer, but still it made me really happy.
I got it by casting an old Gold Bomber, with a lot of paint missing on its body. Yet, it still worked.
Not long after, I finally caught my first point scorer, and we then both had a fish on the board.
The table had turned.

But that was to be it for the day. 
The night was near, and we decided to try one last time at the mouth.
Where we saw some more dressed up participants:

Mario and Luigi went fishing...

Last troll run of the day.

Lady luck had decided to try to avoid us for the day.
It was time to go, sleep and get ready to change that the following day.

The first thing that I heard on the Sunday morning, was the sound of grilling bacon.

Best alarm clock in the world.

This was a great sound to wake up to, and it didn't take me long to be ready.
We had talked with Cuddlescooper, and he told us that he got a full bag the previous day in Salt Water Arm, so we decided to launch from there.
The water was perfect:

Calm sea in the morning.

From there we moved to a small creek, which looked like a good spot to catch a few fish:

One of Salt Water Arm's many creeks.

But the fish must have swim past before we arrived, as we didn't get any action in there.
Another creek, not far away was going to bring us more luck.
It started with Seano getting a Croaker:

A croaker from a little creek.

From there we got a few smallish Threadfin Salmon, and even more Catfish.
To the extend that when I got a good hit, and that my line started to go for a big arc circle on the water, I said that I must have just got a better Catfish.
What a surprise it was to see a little Barramundi coming splashing at the surface.

My best Barramundi of the weekend.

This was still no giant, but it was going to be my best fish of the weekend.

With the fishing slowing down, we warmed some meat pies.
And as you sometimes do, used lures trays as plates:

Meat pie and fishing lures.

We then started to make our way back towards the boat ramp.
Stopping for a chat with every mates we saw on the water:

Sean and Cuddlescooper having a chat.

Because one of the best success of the Top End Barra Series, is that even in its 6th year, it is still very much a social event. Where participants chat to each other more than a hard core competition.
Kudos to the organisation members for keeping it like that.
And a big Thanks to Seano for inviting me on his boat for the weekend.

As a bonus, here is a little photo of me, in full Pecheur Dress up...

Dressed up for the round.

Yes I know, this attire didn't bring me the luck I was hopping for.
Despite using 17 different fishing lures over the weekend, I caught a grand total of three Barramundi, of which only two were big enough to be point scorers.
Next year I will definitively need to find a better costume to attract the fish. And hopefully one that cover my arms a bit better, so I don't get as sun burned as I ended up this year.

But hey, it could be worse.
Have a good day,

Monday, September 5, 2016

The Colour Pecheur.

Hi there,

Today I will present to you three beautiful fishing lures, in the colour Pecheur.
But what is the colour Pecheur?
You might ask...

Well, a few years ago, my good friend Dean gave me a handmade timber lure, that he had done especially for me, and painted in the flag colours of the country I was born in.
And Pecheur had been my alias, or nom de plume in online fishing and lures forum for a long time.

So what does it look like?
Here is a look at the first one:

The colour Pecheur.

This one was given to me by James P. The lure is a Bomber 15 Long A, in a colour that you will not find in shops.
This lure has a special marking on the head:

Fishing lure with team marking.

Now why on earth is the #TeamSlootz, and why would James give me a lure in this special colour with the team marking on it?
Well from what I understand, #TeamSlootz is a very tight group of rather good fisherfolks from around Darwin. (And no, I do not claim to be part of this tight community, I am just lucky enough to have one lure with the team marking). This secretive group, compete between themselves for a year, and the person who will have caught the biggest fish of the year, will have for a full evening, his drinks paid by the other members of the team at the end of the said year.

What did I do to deserve this lure? (And another one, just wait until you see it).

That was pretty easy really, in the second round of the 2016 Top End Barra Series, I hooked my lure, on a lure that was snagged on some underwater tree branches. I got both of them back, and one of them was a rather big and expensive one, no not mine, but the one I had just brought back with it. And it had the #TeamSlootz marking on the head. 
Once I learned that a guy that I know was a member of the team, I offered to give the lure back.
I exchange I was offered two lures in the colour Pecheur. That was very kind of James, I was not expecting anything really, and that was a great surprise. Thank you James.

The other one that James gave me?
Here it is:

Reidy's in the colour Pecheur.

This one is a Reidy's Big Ass, one of my favourite fishing lure when it comes to Barramundi fishing.
But this one, off course, will go straight to the collection, and will stay dry.

And now the one that Dean gave me, the one that started the colour Pecheur:

The Tastic Lures in colour Pecheur.

Yes, this is the one that started the colour Pecheur, at least for me.
It is a very beautiful handcrafted timber lure, made in Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia.
A lure made with the Barramundi and nothing else in mind.

Handmade in Darwin.

As the card says, this one was the number 1 in this colour. And is now to me a very precious lure in my small collection.

And to finish in beauty, the final bouquet:

Three version of the colour Pecheur.

I feel very privileged to have mates who painted these lures just for me, thank you guys.

James told me that he would like to see one of them in a Barramundi mouth...
I am not really sure that this will happen.
Sometimes I think that I could use the Bomber one to fish and retire it as soon as it would have caught a fish.
(There is absolutely no way that the other two will get near the water, ever).

But then I think that it will be scratched, damaged and all...
I don't want that to happen!

But hey, it could be worse.
Have a good day,

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Renegade.

Hi there,

Do you remember the 21st March 2011?
On that day, on this very blog, I introduced you to the prototype of a fishing lure made by Reidy's in Darwin...
At the time the lure was called The Big Judge, but that was not the definite name...
the lure was to be named the Renegade, and it finally hit the shops on this beautiful month of August 2016.

What did the prototype look like?
Like this:

The prototype.

This lure was a present that I received while visiting the Reidy's factory on the outskirts of Darwin.
I have never used it and kept it very preciously. 
But this week, I went to a shop, and bought my first Renegade as soon as I could.
And here it is:

The Reidy's Renegade.

I choose it in the kryptonite colour as it was the closest one to my favourite colour from the Reidy's range, the 008, which is not available yet for the Renegade.

Yes the prototype and the retail version of the lure are very similar.

Prototype and retail version of the Reidy's Renegade.

If the seems slightly different on the above image, it has more to do with the photograph and light than with reality. The prototype is at the top and the retail lure on the bottom of the pic.

The real difference come in the eyes, and the built of the lure.
For the eyes it is pretty obvious, but for the built? Well what I mean by that is that all the tow point and hook hangers are much beefier on the retail one than on the prototype.
Look by yourselves:

Eyes and tow points comparison.

As you can see once again the prototype is in the top part of the image while the retail one is in the lower part. And clearly, the tow point is much stronger on the retail version.
I don't know if it is because during the testing phases, the lure encountered bigger fish than planned? One can only ponder...
But I do know that with such a tow point, it should be able to bring back some pretty big ones.

For the hook hangers, judge by yourself:

Back hook hangers.

The retail version is on the left and the prototype on the right. You can easily see which one is stronger.
The Renegade is a big lure, which can be trolled slow or fast, to a depth of about four metres.

From March 2011 to August 2016 may seems a long time, but I believe that it took in fact longer in research and development to get the lure to shops. All the kudos to Reidy's for not rushing a product out of the factory doors, without making sure first that it was truly tested and ready.

Now I just hope that it will not take me as long to be able to swim and test mine. I can't wait to catch my first fish on it. When it come to play with a new lure, patience is not my stronger point...

But hey, it could be worse.
Have a good day,

Sunday, August 21, 2016

2016 Top End Barra Series Round 4.

Hi there,

Not long ago was the fourth round of the 2016 Top End Barra Series.
Here is the story of it.
  • It was at Corroboree Billabong.
  • Lots of crocodiles, few fishes.
  • All my "good" fish were caught with soft plastics.
  • It was truly a good weekend.

For this round I was fishing from Rossco's boat.
Thank you for inviting me on your boat for the weekend Rossco.
At 5:30 am his car and boat were in front of my home, and it was great to see him after so long.
It was still dark, and the road to the billabong was spent talking about fishing and catching up.

On the rod again.

It is only a short journey to Corroboree Billabong from Darwin, and we were soon able to launch the boat, at a near empty boat ramp.

Early morning launching.

Most of the participants in the fourth round of the 2016 Top End Barra Series had already launched, on the Friday evening, to spend a night between mates on the water, before the competition start.
The weather was typical of a dry season morning: Cold!

Cold morning on Corroboree Billabong.

It might have been cold, but there is some kind of magic to this place. The seemingly peaceful waters, full of big crocodiles... 
It is beautiful, and it keeps you on your toes at the same time.

Peaceful morning.

In fact it was so cold, that when we saw the first boat that was part of the competition, they were dressed for the cold. And remember that this is tropical Australia...

Fishing in the tropical winter.

The crew of the Liquid Diet Boat, was to give me a very nice present in the form of two fishing lures painted especially for me:

Two fishing lures painted Bleu Blanc Rouge.

I already had one lure in this colour that had been made by Dean B. the maker of the Barratastic Lures, and he had named the colour Pecheur.  I will soon do a post about all my lures in the Pecheur colour.
Rosso also gave me a beautiful Lee's Lures made of Timber at the same time. It will too be in a post on this very blog soon, watch this space!

With the sun slowly rising, the resident crocodiles started to make themselves visible. Trying to get a bit of warmth in their cold blood.

Salt Water crocodile warming up.

We had some intel telling us where in the previous week, a few nice Barramundi had been caught in full daylight, and we went to the spot.

Pandanus on the bank.

Yes this is the spot.
We did spot a few fish there, even got a few half baked hits, but nothing to write home about. Sometimes in fishing a day can makes all the difference.
Yet it was good to be there, and enjoy the relative peace of the place.

Water Lily flower floating away.

When I say relative peace of the place, it is of course because of the numerous crocodiles that were lining the spot. 
Yes, there was fish in the water, but the crocs knew it too, and were around for a feed.
In fact later on in the evening, we got chased from this very spot by a cranky big crocodile and had to move away.
But during the day, it was easier to keep an eye on them, and we started to cast weedless lures deep in the lilies.
I was using a weedless soft plastic lure in the Drop Bear colour, and had just flicked it as far and deep in the lilies as I could. I had let the lure drop to the floor of the billabong, and was bringing it back by little successive jumps very close to the bottom. When the line tensed, and the fish came straight to the surface: It was a Barramundi!
Lucky me, instead of trying to go further away in the deep water, it swam near the surface, and straight to me. Rossco was quick to put it in the net, and I had a fish on board!

First Barramundi of the weekend.

For a billabong fish, it wasn't too bad of a fish, coming in at 62cm (24.409449 inches).
Most of all, it was our first fish in the boat, and it showed us that everything was still possible.
It was early afternoon, we hadn't caught a fish in all the morning, but now we were talking.
Or saw we thought. 
Yes, it was hard fishing especially when you see where the first fish came from:

This is where we had to cast our lures.

After this, it was to be a no more Barramundi kind of day.
The sunset arrived and was as great as they can be on the billabongs, event in the middle of the dry season.

Sunset on Corroboree Billabong.

It was photo time:

Rossco, snapping the sunset.

From there, we tried a bit of night trolling, but to no great result, only a few little tap on the lures, with nothing staying connected. Some other participants in the round achieved great results by night trolling. A 92cm (36.220472 inches) Barramundi was caught, and it is a great billabong fish. 
But for Rossco and I, it was going to be a long time until the next Barramundi.
As darkness fell upon us, we caught up With Dean who was fishing with his son.
We rafted the two boats, had a bit to eat and drink, and talked of all the very important matters that fisherfolk  talk about when they catch up... I will let you imagine what it could be...
While talking I cold not help but flick a fizzer here and there, to try to catch a surface Barramundi in the dark of night. One very exciting for of fishing. The only fish having a go at my fizzer were Tarpon:

Night time Tarpon.

They were great fun, but not the targeted specie. One Barra did boof my lure, but must have missed by a few centimetres and didn't even inhale the lure, so not a chance in the world to be hooked.
After a little while, everybody on both boats was deep asleep.
Despite waking up a few times during the night, I could not hear any fish feeding activity near us, and went back to sleep each time, hoping for the sound of boofs.
Finally the morning arrived.

First light on the water.

It was beautiful but cold, and I stayed in my sleeping bag a bit longer.

Cold morning at Corroboree Billabong.

The only thing that could keep me warm in this cold morning, was to move.
What kind of movement can you do on a boat?
Well it is pretty simple, I got in on the action, and started to flick my lure. Doing the longest cast that I could, at the back of the lilies, trying to get warm in the raising sun.

When far away, deep in the cold water, a fish found my lure.
But this one had decided to fight dirty, and went straight for the bottom, trashing in the lilies underwater stems. After a bit of tussle, he was next to the boat. Yet still green and ready to fight some more, he wrapped the line around a few lilies, just a feet or two from us. This is when I truly believed that this fish was lost to me. It was at netting distance from the boat, but every times that Rossco tried to put the net under it, the lilies stems blocked the net, with the other fish moving to the opposite side.
The stems looked green and strong. 
Both Dean and his son had jumped into Rossco's boat to see what was happening from a better vantage point. 
Dean realised what was going on, and brought his long lips gripe to try to secure the fish.
But just then the combination of Rossco pushing on the stems with his net, and the line sawing in them, made them break, and the fish was in the net!
What a fight that had been!

The dirty fighter Barramundi.

at 67cm (26.377953 inches) it was going to be my best Barramundi of the weekend.
But not the last, and it had been caught on the same lure than the previous one too.
In the background of the photo, you can see from which terrain this Barramundi came from.
It was still early, and a fish so soon in the morning was a good sign for the day to come.
The four of us, quickly finished our breakfast, said goodby to people from the other boat and went our way.
It had been a very good night and morning, in great company.
It is nice to see people bringing their child with them for the weekend. That is what I would call real quality time, and it would for sure build in the kids some great memories for the rest of their life.

Dean & Son, going for another day of fishing on the billabong.

I say good on you to the parents who can bring their child for a weekend of camping in nature.

So this first fish brought our expectations to a new level of fishing envy.
Yet, it was nearly a fluke, as the next catch was going to take a long time to come to fruition.

Another of all the iconic fish that we have around Darwin is the Saratoga
This is a fresh water fish, and as such was part of the target fish for the weekend. It a beautiful fish, and I love to see them. I did caught one, but a very small one:

My little Saratoga.

Despite being on the smaller side of sizes, this fish totally destroyed my lure and I had to use another one after it.

It was again a hot day, the wind had started to blow, and made the fishing difficult.
We had to look for sheltered spot, where we hoped to find some fish.
Finally, less than one hour before it was time to get the lines out of the water, casting against Pandanus roots, I retrieved my lure, in a very steady way. Slow, but without any jig or jerking of the line, I was remembering how Brett alway tells me to stop jerking that lure! So I was trying to be a good student. And it worked, I got my last Barramundi of the day.
At first I called it for another Saratoga, due to the yellowish colour I saw when it hit the lure. Rossco was calling it for a Barramundi and me for a Saratoga.
And lucky me there was not to many snag around, as this fish was strong and kept taking line and making runs every time I had it to the boat.
Finally it was netted:

Last Barramundi of the weekend.

The last Barramundi of the weekend came at 62cm (24.409449 inches), just like the first one of the weekend.
Some people might say that I am easily amused, but yes I did find that funny.
After that we tried to see if I could get another fish in the last twenty minutes of the round, but it was not to be.
We then quietly made our way to the ramp, enjoying the evening light and profiting of the last moment of peace for the weekend, before going back to civilisation.
That is when we caught up with a boat of Tebsies.

Fellow Participants in the 2016 TEBS.

They too had found the fishing a bit hard over the weekend. But one of them had caught the second biggest Barramundi of the weekend at 91cm (35.826772 inches). So the smiles were still on their boat.

It had been a great weekend on the water, thanks Rossco, but it was getting dark and it was time to go home.

Evening light at the boat ramp.

Rossco had been in pain during most of the round, and had been unable to cast his lure as often as I did. Yet he allowed me very generously to fish all over the weekend, when most people would have just gone home to try to mend their pain. 

During this round, I used, eleven different hard body fishing lures, and 4 soft plastic ones.
My first two Barramundi had been caught on the same lure.
And when it was destroyed by a little Saratoga, I really missed it, and cursed myself for not having brought with me the other similar one that I had at home.

But hey, it could be worse.
Have a good day,